America has a long and rich heritage of immigration. Democrats have always embraced our country's diversity, but we also recognize that we need to fix our broken immigration system.
Democrats support comprehensive reform grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability:
Responsibility from the federal government to secure our borders: The Obama administration has dedicated unprecedented resources to securing our borders and reducing the flow of illegal traffic in both directions.
Responsibility from unscrupulous businesses that break the law: Employers who exploit undocumented workers undermine American workers, and they have to be held accountable.
Responsibility from people who are living in the United States illegally: Undocumented workers who are in good standing must admit that they broke the law, pay taxes and a penalty, learn English, and get right with the law before they can get in line to earn their citizenship.
Comprehensive immigration reform is essential to continue the tradition of innovation that immigrants have brought to the American economy and to ensure a level playing field for American workers.
Women’s History Month is an opportunity to focus on the many women who have immigrated here and forged the nation we know today, including the first female U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright; Dr. Rita M. Rodriguez, the first woman to teach at Harvard Business School; and Maya Lin, the architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. While the achievements of these women are significant, women’s history also includes the unnamed women who advanced the course of our country.
Maria Elena Durazo writes, ''As the daughter of Mexican immigrant farm workers, my parents taught me the importance of hard work and determination at a young age. When President Obama laid out his vision for commonsense immigration reform, I thought about my parents and the millions of immigrant workers across the country that would benefit from reform.''
Ours has always been a nation of immigrants. From Albert Einstein and Google's Sergey Brin to the millions of ordinary people with an extraordinary belief in the American Dream, immigrants built this country. But today, our immigration system is broken.
President Obama has made it clear from the beginning that comprehensive immigration reform is a priority. In his first term, the Obama administration put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time in U.S. history, and today, illegal crossings are down nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000. Enforcement efforts were focused on criminals who entered illegally, and deportation of criminals is at its highest level ever. And the President and Democrats have stood on the side of DREAMers, high-achieving young people who were brought to this country as children.
But there's far more to be done to fix the system—and we need Congress to act. There's reason to hope this time: For the first time in years, Republicans are joining Democrats on a bipartisan approach to comprehensive immigration reform, and it's in line with the principles that President Obama outlined in a speech yesterday. But our representatives in Congress need to know that we stand behind comprehensive reform that:
1. Keeps strengthening our borders.
2. Cracks down on businesses that hire undocumented workers.
3. Holds undocumented immigrants accountable in order to earn their citizenship. This means having undocumented workers pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks.
4. Updates the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.
This is a blueprint to fix our broken immigration system in a way that requires everyone to take responsibility and ensures everyone plays by the rules.
But as the debate heats up, it's important to remember that the lives and futures of millions of people are at stake. There are 11 million people currently living in the shadows. As President Obama said, "Remember that this debate isn’t just about policy. It’s about people. It’s about men and women who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story. Throughout our history, that has only made our nation stronger. And it’s how we will make sure that this century is the same as the last: an American century."
If you want Congress to pass comprehensive immigration, add your name.